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Post-socialist transition and serial displacement in the Czech movie Horem Pádem (Up and Down) (2004)

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This article analyses the way Horem Pádem (Up and Down, 2004) registers the neo-liberalizing effects of the post-socialist transition on urban space and urban sociality in its representation of Prague. The transition involved an ideological and ethical reorientation that challenged definitions of value and worth. Moreover, through the remaking of the urban environment, neo-liberalization is a contextually embedded process that restructures the conditions of the everyday. Post-transition, Prague was claimed by the logic of post-industrial capital accumulation, with investment in retail and tourist facilities transforming the urban core into a new consumption landscape. I argue that the film’s exploration of the relationship between urban space and identity maps the dislocations produced by the insertion of the periphery of Europe into the neo-liberal space of flows, and the serial displacements that are its effects. Rebordering, de-territorialization and displacement are the key metaphors through which the film captures the emotional horizons of the characters caught up in the multi-scalar reconfiguration of economy, society and space. The narrative presents itself as an allegory of Czech nationhood, whose insertion into a rescaled, capitalist Europe the ‘little people’ populating Hrejbek’s film meet with an admixture of opportunism, disaffection, tribalism and defensive localism.
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Keywords: Czech representation; de-territorialization; defensive localism; nationhood; neo-liberalization; urban sociality; urban transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419368091University of Florida

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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